Now that it’s over, all I can say is “WOW”. Derek Christopher promised Vinnie Vincent at the 2018 Atlanta KISS Expo and delivered. First of all, Derek could not have picked a better venue for the event. The hotel and convention center had ample space and was a great hotel located in the best part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

I purchased the Meet and Greet for Friday, January 19 and arrived into Atlanta the night before. There was a sense that something big was happening Thursday evening as fans lurked around the lobby and outside the hotel, while security guards were ever present. Friday morning during breakfast, I sat next to two gentlemen who traveled from Finland to witness according to them, the biggest moment in Kisstory. Others traveled from as far as Australia. That afternoon, the 20 plus year mystery of Vinnie Vincent was about to end. Or was it? The Meet and Greet purchasers were ushered into a conference room where Vinnie was to make his appearance at 2:10 pm but as 4 pm approached, many in the room began to wonder if he would show. Shortly after that, Vinnie Vincent arrived. To say his appearance was shocking would be an understatement. Then again, he always had a shock value, as I can testify by the first time I saw him on stage on the Creatures Tour in 1983. In hindsight, it was Vinnie being Vinnie. He was kind, open and gracious to everyone in the room as he answered questions that were presented by Derrick. What we learned from the opening Q and A was Vinnie had been in hell for 20 years mostly due to his lawsuit with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. He holds no resentment towards Gene and Paul despite the draining lawsuit. According to him, his salary during his tenure KISS was a paltry $550 a week, which was barely enough for his family and him to survive on. His relationship with Mark Slaughter was addressed in a thinly veiled insult where he said the second Invasion album should never had been made. In a touching moment, Vinnie was overcome with emotion as he spoke of his first wife and children. Vinnie also stated that Gene had contacted him via an email account that he had not checked in a while and that he was going to appear at the Vault Experience in Nashville on April 14. The opening Q and A ended and after a break, the signings started. This was supposed to begin at 3:15 but was now almost 3 hours late. I drew lucky number 13 in line so my session with Vinnie was early in the process. I knew someone who had # 60 and did not get in until 10 pm. Vinnie was great while signing, making sure that everything was signed correctly while giving quality time to each fan. There was a moment right before I had my items signed where two individuals who are guilty of malicious attacks and ridicule that hurt Vinnie deeply, cut ahead of the line to have their pictures with him while acting like complete imbeciles. It was moments like this that not only backed up the already tardy schedule but tarnished the whole event experience. In my opinion, the expo would have been more enjoyable and much more efficient if certain parties were not present.

Saturday was the official day of the event, and the crowd was immense. The line went on forever. I had the advantage of entering early, but I could see that many people would have to wait hours to eventually see Vinnie. This allowed me to take advantage of the expo and meet each celebrity, podcaster, and vendor. Like anything, there were the good, and there were the bad. Bob Kulick and Ron Keel were complete pros and gentlemen, while other wannabes acted pretentious and disingenuous. One vendor, whom I thought I knew well, still owes me money due to the fact he could not make change. Fool me once I guess. Nevertheless, while the day’s agenda lagged behind, everything that the expo promised, was delivered. This included more Vinnie. His second Q and A started off with the same questions as the previous days until Vinnie went into more detail about other famous and infamous events in his life including his battle with substance abuse and his unfortunate arrest for domestic abuse in 2011. He went into great detail on his side of the story dealing with a terrible marriage marred by drug and alcohol abuse. As he picked up his guitar, he addressed the lawsuit brought on him by Hirsch Gardner, where his band’s instruments were seized before an Invasion show in 1986 in Worchester, Ma. Vinnie then played a set of songs including “Tears” and “A Million to One”. During “Back on the Streets” he was joined by former band mate Robert Fleischman. To see the event’s highlights in great detail, visit Mike Brunn’s channel on Youtube. His documentation is stellar.

This concert review was written by Joe Becht.  Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht

Atlanta Kiss Expo 2018
Emily Strigl and Vinnie Vincent. Photo by Joe Becht.



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